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Country sets new fertility low — Analysis

Statistics show that the South Korean figure declined by 3 points last year.

South Korea broke its own record for the world’s lowest fertility rate last year, the national statistics agency said on Wednesday.

The country’s total fertility rate, which represents the average number of children a woman gives birth to in her lifetime, dropped to 0.81 in 2021 – down by three points from 0.84 a year before that, the figures from Statistics Korea revealed.

According to the agency, only 260,600 children were born last year in the country with 51.7 million inhabitants. This further raises concerns about the nation’s shrinking population and its aging.

In 1970, the fertility rate was 4.53 when Seoul’s government began collecting data. The fertility rate has steadily declined since 1970, when the government in Seoul began collecting data. This decline increased during financial turmoil of the 2000s. In 2018, the figure fell below 1.0 as young Koreans faced rising housing and childcare costs, unemployment, and a lack of education.




For the first time in history, the death toll exceeded the South Korean newborns for 2020.

To maintain its population size without the need for migration, a country must have a fertility rate above 2.1. 

Since decades, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD), Seoul’s member, has predicted a decrease in fertility rates. 

South Korea is however the only country among 38 that has this mark below one. The US had a fertility rate of 1.66, and Japan, 1.37 in 2021.

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